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When it comes to getting a close and comfortable shave, one of the most critical components is of course the proper prep work that you do.
Whether you are using the best safety razor, cartridge razor, disposable razor, straight razor, or even an electric shaver, many men often wonder whether or not they should shave before or after showering.
To give it to you straight…
It depends on the type of blade you are going to be using on your facial hair.
Shaving Before a Shower (i.e. A Dry Shave)
When it comes to removing any sort of facial hair without showering, unequivocally the best way is to use an electric shaver.
Electric shavers are built with convenience in mind and are by and far the most suitable solution when you are in a pinch and just simply don’t have the time to invest in a full shower and wet shave.
Whether you are using a rotary or foil head, an electric shaver is able to provide a clean cut of the hair follicle that shouldn’t be too terribly irritating on your skin.
To accommodate an electric shaver, its generally recommended to use a product like Lectric Shave that will assist in prepping your hair follicles to stand on edge in order to achieve a much cleaner cut.
When it comes to using traditional tools – you still can use them…
But here’s the catch:
Traditional wet shaving tools (i.e. DE Razor, cartridge razor, etc.) of course can still cut through the whiskers on your face, just the effectiveness and the amount of effort exerted by the blade on the hair shaft is significantly higher.
Therefore, when using a traditional shaving tool, its strongly recommended to wet your whiskers whether it’s with a hot towel or a shower in order to prevent any sort of excess pulling on the shaft of your hair follicle.
Continued pulling on the hair will cause pronounced skin irritation which will lead to severe discomfort long after you finished your morning shave.
When you use an electric shaver (or even beard trimmer) there isn’t too much pulling on your hair as a rotary head acts more like a miniature weed whacker and a foil head cuts in an oscillation motion (i.e. the blade never touches your skin with these devices).
A Hot Wet Towel Rests Directly Between Not Showering and Showering When It Comes To An Optimal Shave Routine
While shaving ‘dry’ isn’t really acceptable unless you are using a rotary or foil based razor, the next best option for men is going to be by simply wetting their face with a hot towel.
This method is preferred by quality shave shops around the country.
The hot towel method still isn’t nearly as effective as showering, but it’s definitely the second best option. When you rest a hot towel on your face, you should be able to sufficiently begin to swell up your whiskers along with providing an ample level of moisture to your skin.
However, unlike showering, which we will get to in just a minute, a hot towel will not be able to adequately clear out all the dirt, grime, and general pollutants from your skin.
Therefore, this option is best if you are in a pinch and just simply don’t have the full time to invest in a shower.
With the hot towel method, you can use any one of the classic shaving tools in order to get a clean cut on the hair follicle.
Shaving After Shower Is Simply The Best
By and far the best way to prep your skin prior to shaving will be by taking a hot shower. There are several reasons why showering before you shave is considered optimal by so many shaving experts alike.
First and foremost, when you shower before you shave, you are simply prepping your skin to be completely clean of all pollutants and general grime as we briefly eluded to above.
Why does this matter?
Well, when you take a razor across the surface of your face, you are not only removing all the hair follicles, but you are effectively conducting a deep exfoliation of your skin.
This deep exfoliation leaves all your pores open and incredibly susceptible to contact with bacteria.
When bacteria creeps into your pores, you will likely incur general skin irritation which can range from relatively mild to one that can be severe for some men – which can cause discomfort throughout the day.
Beyond the cleanliness factor of taking a shower, when you soak your facial hair in hot water for several minutes, the entire shaft of the hair follicle will both swell up and become a lot softer.
This over swollen hair shaft that is a bit softer will make it a lot easier on the razor blade to get a clean cut in fewer passes.
The effortless cut exerted by the razor blade will also prevent less tugging and pulling on the root that also causes irritation as well.
However, as we will cover in a bit, shaving at the right time is only half the battle – you also want to make sure that you invest in the right tools before you ever touch the blade to your skin.
How to Properly Enhance Your Shave
Cleaning your skin along with allowing your hair follicles to fully absorb all the water is just one part of a much larger equation.
In fact, there are a plethora of products that can help enhance your shave that will increase the overall comfort.
When I was a bit younger and more of a novice, I would simply go to the corner drug store or the grocery store on the weekends and get a can of that heavily marketed shaving gel and just simply use that.
However, since studying the shaving process so extensively, there are a few key details that I learned along the way that my dad just simply never taught me when first learning how to shave:
Pre shave oil can actually have a measurable difference when it comes to providing adequate lubrication to your face.
While showering will help to swell the follicles and to provide moisture to your skin, a quality pre shave oil is constructed of a mixture natural ingredients that will further improve the moisture to your skin and provide an incredibly slick surface on your skin so the razor blade can glide effortlessly.
Why does this matter?
Whether you are using a cartridge razor, double edge safety razor, disposable razor, or even a straight razor – a pre shave oil’s moisturizing abilities will keep your skin hydrated to prevent any micro abrasions on the surface when the razor glides along your skin. These micro abrasions will show up as tiny blood spots (assuming your blade technique is on point) of your skin that become terribly uncomfortable.
If you aren’t familiar with pre shave oils, then we definitely recommend checking some out as they are an incredibly inexpensive product that can make a big impact on the overall comfort.
After a quality pre shave oil is applied – one of the most important products (with the exception of the razor) that you should also consider is a top notch shaving cream.
There’s a reason that shaving cream has been around for 5,000 years – it works!
Shaving creams come in all different shapes and sizes.
Simply put though:
Your shaving cream should never come from a can. In fact, what we recommend is a shaving cream that is either in a tub or tube form that is constructed of finely crafted oils and other lubricating ingredients.
I wasn’t personally a believer in a quality shaving cream.
But when I first used an actual ‘good’ shaving cream, I never looked back. From scent to comfort, a top notch shaving cream can make even the most subpar razor blade really shine.
A decent shaving cream will have the ability to whip up an incredibly rich lather that will not only make it easy for the blade to glide effortlessly, but also helps retain in the moisture to the pores of your skin.
As we talked about earlier, when you take a shower, the swelling of the hair follicle will make it much easier for the razor blade to get a clean cut on your whisker.
What sets the better shaving creams apart from the rest is their ability to retain both heat and moisture into your skin. This is critical to increasing overall comfort of the shave.
While you could simply apply a shaving cream to your face without taking a shower, we would recommend applying it at the very least, after a hot towel application. A shower of course is the preferred and best method.
To Save Time Should You Shave In The Shower?
Now there are plenty of men who prefer to have their favorite fogless (or heated) mirror and just get the job done while in the shower.
While this method can definitely be effective for some men – especially if you have a ‘wet’ electric shaver that can handle this environment, when it comes to traditional wet shaving it can be a bit tricky.
If you are using a standard cartridge based razor, then shaving in the shower can definitely be accomplished with relative ease given that cartridge razors are considered pretty ‘safe’ from nicking yourself.
In addition, you can shave pretty quickly with a cartridge razor given that the razor is pre-set to the optimal cutting angle.
Now when it comes to using either a double edge safety razor or straight edge razor, we wouldn’t recommend shaving in the shower.
Given that these two razor types require a bit more intensive attention to detail with their reliance on a proper blade angle and a well cushioned shaving cream applied continuously with a quality shave brush – trying to fumble all this in the shower will be incredibly difficult.
Now there might be some men that do use a DE or straight edge razor in the shower, and that is fine, however if you are just learning on how to use one of these tools then we recommend using (and ultimately mastering them) after a shower before you take them into the shower stall with you.
A Great Shave Comes Down To The Right Equipment and Routine
To execute the perfect shave routine, it simply comes down to investing both your personal time along with the right set of tools to adequately get the job done.
But wet shaving experts don’t simply stop there. In fact, what they also like to use is a silvertip badger hair brush like the ones we reviewed that will lift up the hairs on edge and create even a better lather with a shaving cream.
Of course the most critical component to the perfect shave will come down to the blade that you are using. If you find that you are always short on time, without a doubt, the cartridge razor will be terrific at providing a close shave time and time again – but what you trade for this convenience will be the increased cost.
On the other hand, double edge safety razors have entered a renaissance period among men due to their effectiveness at providing a close shave along with their incredibly low long term costs.
If you are ever deciding on a double edge safety razor, we recommend checking out some of the shaving kits that we reviewed to get you started.
On the other hand, if you want just the double edge safety razor, you should check out our in-depth reviews of the top razors from all the major manufacturers.
Last but not least, an aftershave balm will provide a post shave splash of hydration that does not sting. An aftershave balm will help to tone out your skin and close up your pores post-shave to increase comfort and prevent any dry skin from flaking.
Of course as we covered above, showering before shaving will provide the biggest advantage to increasing the overall comfort of your shave that will yield the absolute best results for you time and time again.